Doctor says '5 Love Languages' are key to successful marriage

DETROIT – Dr. Gary Chapman has spent more than a decade working with married couples, and he believes he knows why some marriages work and others fail.

"I had been counseling for maybe 15 years, hearing the same stories over and over in my office. One of them would say, ‘I feel like he doesn't love me.' Or, ‘She doesn't love me. It's like we're roommates living in the same house. He lives his life, I live my life. There's just nothing going on between us,'" Chapman told Local 4 during a recent interview. "I knew there was a pattern to what I was hearing. I didn't know what it was."

Chapman said he sat down and combed through years of counseling notes he had taken during sessions until something jumped out at him.

"I asked myself the question, when someone said in my office, ‘I feel like my spouse doesn't love me,' what did they want? What were they complaining about? And their answers fell into five categories. I later called them the ‘5 Love Languages,'" he said.

Chapman says every person gives and receives love in a different language. And whichever love language works for one person does not necessarily work for another.

"In a marriage, for example, seldom does a husband and a wife have the same language," Chapman said.

The key, according to Chapman, is recognizing what languages work with each partner and nurturing them.

The languages are:

  • Words of affirmation (Saying something kind)
  • Acts of service (Doing a household chore or the like)
  • Receiving gifts  (Something thoughtful)
  • Quality time (Undivided attention together)
  • Physical touch (Hugs, holding hands)

"So he may be giving her words of affirmation, telling her how wonderful she is, and her language may be acts of service, and she's thinking, ‘If you love me like you say you love me, why don't you help me?' He's sincere and he's really trying to love her, he does love her, but he's missing her emotionally because he's speaking his own language and not her language," Chapman said.

Chapman said anyone can learn to speak a love language once they are conscious of what they are, and how important they are.

"When a couple feels loved by each other, they can solve conflicts; they can work through difficulties that come in life. When you don't feel loved, it's hard to solve conflicts and you struggle with the differences you have in marriage," Chapman said. 

Chapman has tools on his website to help you discover which love language you speak, click here to discover it.